The Basilica of St. Mary Formosa dates back to the 6th century. It is an exceptionally important Early Christian monument. Unfortunately, only the south chapel, shaped as a Greek cross, has been preserved.
Located in the south of the old town core, St. Mary Formosa is one of the most significant Early Christian monuments of the Byzantine art and architecture in Istria and Croatia. It was commissioned by Archbishop Maximianus of Ravenna from the vicinity of Rovinj, who also had San Vitale and San Appolinare in Classe erected, both in Ravenna.
The magnificent three-nave basilica was divided into three naves by columns, which interior rhythm was repeated on its exterior perimetral walls, the window division and blind arch lesenes. The sanctuary was completed by three polygonal arches and two side chapels next to it. Only the south chapel has been fully preserved until today, while the major part of the northern one was built into the neighbouring residential buildings.
The basilica's northern wall is today visible only as a fence surrounding the neighbouring garden. The chapel is designed as a Greek cross, one of which arms ends in a semi-circular axis, while its central part, the point where the two arms cross, is higher than the others. The sanctuary is covered by the quadro-pitched roof, while the remaining part of the structure has dual-pitched roofs. The exterior is simple, decorated by shallow lesenes, blind arches and semi-circular windows. It got ruined, especially during the 1242 fire at the time of the Venetian conquest of Pula. A large portion of its inventory was shipped to Venice, where it was used in building the St. Mark's Library or Sale delle quattro porte of the Doge's Palace.
In the late 16th century, the basilica was already in ruins.References:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.